GreenEdge and Radioshack-Nissan have been awarded WorldTour status by the UCI, completing the list of 18 teams to compete in cycling’s top tier in the 2012 season.
“On the basis of the documents submitted the commission approved the registration of the RadioShack-Nissan and granted a WorldTour licence to the GreenEdge Cycling Team,” read a UCI statement.
Radioshack-Nissan is a merger between the existing Leopard-Trek and Radioshack teams and the new squad has been awarded a licence for the 2012 season, while the new GreenEdge outfit has been granted WorldTour status for the 2012-2013 period.
GreenEdge is Australia’s first top-tier team, with a 30-strong roster that includes 17 home grown riders, not least 2011 Milan-San Remo winner Matt Goss and veterans Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen.
“This is a team built for the future and we are obviously thrilled to have the licencee in place,” said general manager Shayne Bannan, who quit his role as Cycling Australia’s national performance director to help setup GreenEdge.
“We have been confident all along during the process, but at the same time humble towards the criteria you need to meet in order to get the final approval. We are currently busy with our first team camp and everything is coming together for a great debut year in the WorldTour.
“We’re young team with big ambitions about giving back to the sport and create excitement both in Australia and across the globe. Cycling has grown immensely over the last years and we are happy to be an integrated part of that positive development.”
Team founder Gerry Ryan added: “This is a key moment for Australian cycling and we are proud to enter the WorldTour with a new and extremely motivated project. I am convinced that we will bring great moments and a lot of passion to the sport with this team. I’d like to use this opportunity to congratulate the entire team and all of our partners with this important, historical step.”
Radioshack-Nissan’s roster includes brothers Andy and Frank Schleck, who finished second and third respectively in this year’s Tour de France.
Andy Schleck has now finished second for three successive years but Radioshack-Nissan general manager Johan Bruyneel – the mastermind of nine Tour victories with Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador at US Postal Service, Discovery Channel and most recently Astana – insists the 26-year-old is capable of reaching the top step of the podium.
“It’s too early to decide the complete Tour de France team, but I know we’ll have numerous riders who can compete for the top podium step in Paris,” said Bruyneel. ” Certainly Andy has come the closest, as he has finished second the past three years. I’m excited to work with him and Frank, two talented and successful riders, who I believe will continue to rise in the eyes of the cycling world.”
Schleck may yet be awarded the 2010 Tour de France is Contador is found guilty of doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with a verdict due in January, but believes it would be a hollow victory.
“Whichever sentence is returned, my life won’t change,” he said. “The road has already written its story and given its verdict, I’m not interested in anything else.”
The Luxembourg rider was in the yellow jersey going into the penultimate time trial of the 2011 Tour but was overhauled by eventual winner Cadel Evans and Schleck acknowledges the fact he must improve against the clock if he is to write his name in cycling history.
“When the new management structure was announced, I was a bit unsure of all the changes,” he added. “But after talking with Johan and really understanding his philosophy, it’s very clear that having him lead this team is in my best interests, as well as in those of the team.
“He’ll help me build upon my strengths and improve my weak areas. In addition to that, I don’t think anyone understands race strategies and tactics better than Johan.”
UCI WorldTour line-up
AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
BMC Racing Team
Lampre – ISD
Liquigas – Cannondale
Lotto Belisol Team
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
Team Saxo Bank